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International LiDAR Mapping Forum

Report on ILMF11 – New Orleans , February 7-9, 2011

The International Lidar Mapping Forum [ILMF] is the premier event for the LiDAR industry attracting professionals from all over the world and it held its 11th Annual Conference in New Orleans in February 2011. A total of 576 delegates from 33 countries registered which was a record for this venue. New Orleans alternates with Denver as the home of the ILMF.

And as if the attraction of New Orleans was not enough, the delegates had plenty of good reasons to bring them to the ILMF: there were 59 international exhibitors who were launching a number of new LiDAR products and showing a wide range of new technologies and services, and the fully booked exhibit halls were complemented by an informative array of technical posters from academia and industry. The extensive three-day Conference program featured a series of 34 technical papers from world class international authors covering technical developments and the use of LiDAR in terrestrial, aerial and bathymetric operations, as well as a complete conference track dedicated to mobile mapping.

Conference Chairman Alastair MacDonald of TMS International introduced a full program which started with an excellent Key Note address by Alwar Narayanan [Director of Research] and Jim Lynch [Lead Engineer] of Navteq, the leading global provider of digital map data that is used in navigation systems. Alwar and Jim examined the evolution of mobile mapping, which is the fastest growing sector in the terrestrial mapping industry. Among the highly acclaimed papers [which had been peer-reviewed by the ILMF Technical Committee of representatives from all sectors of the community] was one presented by Lewis Graham, President of GeoCue, who discussed the potential of software to create new products and provide quality checks and functionality while digitizing. The potential of using full waveform LiDAR data was convincingly examined by Dr Charles Toth of Ohio State University and Chris Macon from USACE-JABLTCX reported on the latest developments in airborne bathymetric LiDAR for coastal zone mapping.

A rich and varied series of recent projects were well represented by Bobby Tuck of Tuck Mapping Solutions who updated delegates on a major Texas Department of Transportation Highways mapping project; Krysia Sapeta of Sanborn Mapping Company explained its use of LiDAR for identifying optimum solar panel placement; Dr Andreas Ulrich of Austrian laser specialists Riegl Laser Measurement Systems described the continuous improvements which are taking place in data acquisition and processing by incorporating multi-wavelength scanning to retrieve additional information on the targets.

Not only were the seasoned LiDAR professionals well looked after: a career-focussed series of free to attend workshop sessions attracted large numbers of prospective new entrants to the LiDAR community. This illustrated just how far and wide the benefits of LiDAR are reaching in the National, State and local government mapping and data collection sectors, generating new applications and a whole new community of users.

Even though the pace of the Conference was demanding, there was still time for the trademark socialising and networking events for which the ILMF is well known: the ILMF cocktail reception for all delegates and exhibitors, hosted by the organizers Intelligent Exhibitions and TMS International, was held in the exhibits hall where everyone was treated to the pleasure of a New Orleans real jazz band roaming around the exhibit booths during the party. And the following evening there was the traditional New Orleans ILMF party at Pat O’Briens, one of New Orleans’ most favorite watering holes.

Judging from the feedback the organizers received from delegates and exhibitors alike, the ILMF in New Orleans was voted a tremendous success by everyone who attended. The record numbers of delegates and the completely filled exhibit halls show how important LiDAR is becoming in all areas of mapping as the most cost effective means of acquiring high quality data to quickly produce really accurate maps. The changes in LiDAR technology are also allowing more and more users from across the community to access this data and make their jobs easier.

The next ILMF is scheduled to be held in Denver, Colorado, from January 23-25, 2012. 

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